We all love the butterflies that come with a new relationship. But don’t lose your head as well as your heart
There’s not much that can compare to the excitement of new romance blossoming. And finding love in later life is no different. Daydreaming, planning dates, and having someone to gush about to your friends. We all love feeling like a teenager again, right?
We all love feeling like a teenager again, right?
But what about if it gets serious? Fingers crossed things carry on smoothly, but eventually you might be facing bigger decisions together. If you’re at the stage where property, investments, and looming retirement are part of life, then conversations will need to be had.
Once the heady excitement dies down, it’s time to talk about money
It’s important to be practical and honest about your finances.
“Depending on the seriousness of the relationship, you might want to discuss bigger financial decisions and your financial goals to get a stronger understanding of how each person views money,” says Forrest McCall, a financial blogger. “Communication is key when it comes to relationships, and it doesn’t end when it comes to money.”
If marriage or moving in together is on the cards, it’s wise to find out if you’re integrating your life with someone with similar financial views. If there are differences highlighted, you’ll want to work out the details.
From whether one of you will sell or rent out an existing property if you move in together, to how monthly bills will be paid. It’s best these practicalities are addressed before moving in together.
And remember, if one or both of you receive any kind of state benefits, you’ll need to inform the Department of Work and Pensions about your changed living arrangements. Age UK provides excellent advice on managing this often-confusing situation.
“Joint accounts can be very useful in practical terms,” says financial expert May Fairweather. “If you have shared expenses, an account that you can both use and access means less transferring money back and forth, or working out how much you owe for split bills.”
If one party clears the account, causing bill payments to be missed, or racks up an overdraft, both sides are responsible for this.
Note, if you break up, a joint account can become a source of antagony. If one party clears the account, causing bill payments to be missed, or racks up an overdraft, both sides are responsible for this.
“Banks typically won’t make changes to a joint account without agreement from both owners, although if you find yourself in a scenario where your joint account is being weaponised against you, speak to the bank about their economic abuse policy,” advises Fairweather.
If a partner dies, there will be inheritance tax implications. If the balance isn’t huge, this won’t become a major issue. However, if you plan to keep large sums in a joint account it’s sensible to seek advice.
“I’d recommend always making sure you have your own individual account, and you each get your income paid into that account – this lets you set up automatic transfers into the joint account for the amounts you’ve agreed to contribute, but preserves some independence for you both,” says May.
For more information about this sort of thing, Pension Buddy has some great advice…
A retirement partner
Even if retirement feels like a long way off, it is important to plan ahead to make sure you’re financially comfortable. Discussing pensions might seem like a bore when all you want to discuss with your beloved is where will be the next romantic trip you’ll take. But if you think this could be the person you’ll spend your later years with, it’s a necessary conversation.
“As you age, it’s also critical to think about your retirement plans and how you will manage your finances in the long term,” says McCall. “This is a conversation that you should have with your partner early on, so that you can make sure you are on the same page.”
“Remember to check whether you need to update the beneficiaries of any pensions, insurance or other assets,” Fairweather reminds cosy couples. “You don’t have to be living together for someone to be your named beneficiary, but it’s often a good opportunity to take stock and make the necessary arrangements – and don’t forget about your will!”
Tightening your belts
Most of us are feeling the squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis, and early on in a relationship you may want to splash out to impress your new baeu. However, blogger McCall advises a little prudence with your passion.
“Meeting a new partner can cause you to re-think many things, but it shouldn’t cause drastic changes in how you manage your money,” says McCall. “You may be tempted to go out and spend money on fancy dates or gifts, but it is important to maintain a sense of financial stability in your relationship.”
“Try to set boundaries when it comes to your money – this might mean limiting date nights to once a week or choosing more budget-friendly date night options.”
If things turn sour
Sometimes, a fine romance ages more like milk than wine. If it comes to calling it quits, the last thing you want is a dispute over money on top of nursing your heart.
“Sadly, there’s always a risk of financial abuse or romance fraud when you start a new relationship,” says Fairweather. “At the same time, sharing the costs of life with a partner isn’t an unreasonable thing to want to do.”
“Sadly, there’s always a risk of financial abuse or romance fraud when you start a new relationship”
If you’re concerned that your partner’s interest in you is “more fiscal than flirtatious”, Fairweather says there are warning signs you may look out for. These include “attempts to control your spending or access to cash, putting bills and other expenses in your name, needing to borrow money frequently, and/or being resistant to discussions about money.”
Setting boundaries can be a way to protect yourself. Whether you’re worried about red flags, or you’ve simply reached a point in your life where you’re not comfortable getting in too deep with someone else on a financial level.
“While different attitudes to finances are common and often perfectly reasonable, especially after decades of established habits, it’s okay to decide that your approaches are too far apart for you to be comfortable becoming financially entwined,” says Fairweather.
“If your beloved gets very upset about your boundaries or reacts strongly to your desire to keep things separate, that’s a concerning sign – like many aspects of a relationship, shared finances are a “two yeses, one no” situation.”
“financial counselling can be worthwhile if it becomes tricky to share money”
Even if neither partner is out to hit the other one in the bank balance, financial counselling can be worthwhile if it becomes tricky to share money, especially if it is causing arguments in an otherwise happy relationship.
“Talking things through with a financial therapist can be a great way to get on the same page, and have those complicated conversations that no one particularly enjoys but which are crucial to avoiding stressful clashes,” says Fairweather.
If you are genuinely worried about economic abuse, Fairweather recommends Surviving Economic Abuse for information and support.